The first passuk in Vayeitzei, which is the precursor to Yaakov’s famous dream, reads:
וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע וַיֵּלֶךְ חָרָנָה
The first passuk in the second perek of the parsha (the day after Yaakov’s dream):
וַיִּשָּׂא יַעֲקֹב רַגְלָיו וַיֵּלֶךְ אַרְצָה בְנֵי קֶדֶם
Why does the Torah include the descriptive phrasing of Yaakov lifting his legs? We know how a person walks – lifting one foot, putting it in front of the other, etc. – why does the Torah need to tell us how Yaakov was walking? It seems superfluous to tell us about the mechanic’s of Yaakov’s legs. The torah should have just said:
וילך יעקב ארצה בני קדם
Rashi 29:1, quotes Breishis Rabbah that explains that when Yaakov received the good news the night before that Hashem would be with him and protect him, he was so happy with the good news, and so: “nasah libo et raglav, v’na’aseh kal” – his heart “carried” his legs. He was no longer worried; he was calmer from hearing Hashem’s promise. To quote Rashi/Breishis Rabbah:
וישא יעקב רגליו: משנתבשר בשורה טובה שהובטח בשמירה, נשא לבו את רגליו ונעשה קל ללכת
We see that the Midrash offers a psychological and technical reason for Yaakov’s flight of foot i.e. the good news Yaakov received. He felt better, so he was able to move faster.
Rav Moshe Taragin suggests that an even broader perspective from Yaakov’s standpoint, which contributed to Yaakov’s enthusiastic travel:
Yaakov’s position as one of the Avos had just been confirmed – the dream and subsequent promise he was given by Hashem was the first time Hashem spoke with Yaakov since receiving/acquiring the bracha from Yitzchak. Following Hashem’s assurance, his journey, destiny and life’s vision became much clearer, and therefore he moved with greater energy and vigor.
In life we all have “projects”. The short-term projects are easier. We invest in them for a finite amount of time, and if we are successful, then that breeds confidence and motivation and encouragement to accomplish more. Investment, success, motivation, more investment, more success, etc. When we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is much easier to run toward it.
But what about the long-term projects? The macro and grand projects that require more than just a few days or weeks to accomplish? Those endeavors require great discipline, but even more so, they require tremendous vision.
Running to meet our daily schedules, we may lose sight of the longer term and broader picture and can become distracted, dragging our feet, losing interest – we’re not dragging our feet on the project at hand, but we may be slowing down and losing traction on the larger goals.
One could actually say Yaakov actually passes too quickly at the beginning of Vayeitzei – he passes the makom of the Beit Hamikdash and has to return because he “missed” it:
וַיִּיקַץ יַעֲקֹב מִשְּׁנָתוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר אָכֵן יֵשׁ ה’ בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וְאָנֹכִי לֹא יָדָעְתִּי
The story immediately after “vayisah raglav” is the story of Yaakov removing the large stone from the well and meeting his future wife, Rachel. He is certainly excited to see Rachel, which gives him the strength to remove the stone, but in Rachel, he also sees a key element of his life’s path. He is excited to remove the stone, help her, and set in motion the path toward a life together.
Hashem promises Yaakov a legacy, and within hours finds his wife. Yitzchak, by contrast, had to wait around for Eliezer to come back with Rivkah; Yaakov finds his wife immediately once he gets the concrete vision of his future. He is able to walk quickly and remove heavy stones.
Discipline is then needed to endure 7 years of work for Lavan to marry Rachel, and then another 7 years after Lavan tricks him. Unquestionably, Yaakov needed this discipline to work all those years. But without the vision of marrying Rachel whom he felt was his zivug, he may have given up hope. He had a yearning to marry Rachel and fulfill his destiny, and allowed nothing to deter him. Yaakov demonstrated the need for both vision and discipline to be truly successful.
Yaakov’s ability to keep the grand picture squarely in focus, and the discipline to move him along his path, is the reason he had the vigor and the energy to walk swiftly, remove heavy stones, eventually marry his wife, and complete his destiny of being the last of the Avos.
Many seforim discuss the difference between Leah (representing nistar, dor hamidbar, shamayim, spirituality, lofty goals, Mashiach ben David), and Rachel (representing giluey, dor Eretz Yisrael, aretz, living in physical world but conquering the physical, Mashiach ben Yosef, etc.).
Yaakov, realizing the importance of joining both, marries Leah and Rachel. As we see from the quarreling amongst the sons of Yaakov, housing all 12 shvatim under one roof, and loving two wives, was no easy accomplishment. However, Yaakov had the vision to see it through. Yaakov, who dreams of a ladder entrenched in the ground but rising to the heavens, understood the duality required to properly serve Hashem and to successfully reach our own personal goals and destinies.